CAMPAIGNERS have scored a huge victory after three public toilets axed as part of budget cuts last year were reopened today.
Portsmouth City Council’s new Tory administration has found the cash to bring a unisex, disabled-friendly loo into use at former toilet blocks in Paulsgrove, Hilsea and Old Portsmouth near the Hot Walls.
The sites along with nine others were shut down by the Lib Dems when they were in power in an bid to shave £200,000 from the budget.
But the Tories found a way of bringing some of the toilets back and ensuring they won’t be a strain on the public purse.
June Clarkson, secretary of the Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, campaigned against the closures.
She said: ‘This is a positive step forward for elderly people. They value public toilets a lot. We get a lot of tourists in Old Portsmouth so it will be good for them. We’re happy.’
Reopening the loos in Hilsea and Paulsgrove won’t cost taxpayers anything, as they will be cleaned by council employees who maintain council properties in those areas and already use part of the toilets for storage.
It will cost £7,667 a year to keep the loos running at White Hart Road, Old Portsmouth, as that was completely shut down and hasn’t been used for anything else.
Only one toilet will be open at each location as the council felt there wasn’t enough demand for all the ones there before.
The extra space will be used for other council purposes.
The toilets have reopened ahead of a council cabinet meeting on Thursday to finalise the plans.
Council leader Donna Jones, said: ‘We believe public toilets are a vital service.
‘When you pay your council tax it’s the least you expect.
‘It was a short-sighted decision by the previous administration to close toilets and I’m delighted we’ve been to afford this within our first three weeks of running the council.’
Paulsgrove councillor and Labour group leader John Ferrett said: ‘Local residents will welcome the reopening of the toilets in Marsden Road, Paulsgrove, which is the only public toilet in the whole of the ward.’
Plans are in place to reopen a public toilet in Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton, and a private business could run it.
A petition was signed by 1,500 residents against its closure.
The council has also extended the opening hours of toilets near the D-Day Museum in Southsea from 5pm to 9pm each day.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Lib Dem who was the leader of the council at the time of the closure decision, said: ‘Nobody wants to shut things down and I’m pleased they have found the money to be able to make this happen.’
Others can’t be reopened because of decisions
NOT all of the council-run toilets axed in Portsmouth last year can be brought back.
That is because the loos at Milton Park, Bransbury Park and Highland Road were demolished after the decision was made to shut them. And toilets at Castle Field, Southsea, are now used for bike hire and the lease of ones in Paradise Street, Landport, and Clarke’s Road, Fratton, are being sold for other use.
South Parade Kiosk loos have made way for Southsea Beach Cafe and toilets formerly at College Park, Copnor, are now a dog grooming business. There are now 59 toilets open in the city thanks to a community scheme which encourages businesses to open their facilities to the public.